When Halifax Shipyard’s CEO, on live television, said the successful bid couldn’t have happened without the leadership of Darrell Dexter you could see the opposition MLAs in attendance wince. Ships Start Here now, but for the Liberals and Conservatives, the election campaign started as well. Nova Scotia was in the mood to celebrate, but the opposition went out of their way to attack the Premier, and they came off looking like very poor sports.
The Ships Start Here campaign brought together the Halifax Shipyard, Chambers of Commerce across the province, the NSCC, Dalhousie, the Federation of Labour, the NSGEU, and the Nova Scotia Government, and large and small businesses around Nova Scotia, united in promoting Nova Scotia’s bid to build Canada’s next set of ships. People were watching to see if their kids could come home and work, if they should open a business, buy a house, learn a trade. The campaign gave Nova Scotians pride.
As Halifax businessman Gordon Stevens put it on his blog:
A vocal minority of people have spoken up to criticize the government’s sponsorship of the Ships Start Here campaign saying it was a waste of money and an attempt by the provincial NDP to take credit for something which they were not involved in.
As a business owner, and proud supporter of Nova Scotian ingenuity and entrepreneurship, this criticism is on the one hand laughable, but more importantly damaging.
The Consumer Confidence Index is one of the most widely watched barometers of economic strength in any jurisdiction. When we are confident, we spend more, we invest more, and invariably, we are more successful. Even if the Ships Start Here had absolutely no impact on the awarding of the contract, it was still one of the best uses of government funds to spur economic growth and confidence that I have ever witnessed because it told us it is ok to be confident in our future.
This incredible news for Nova Scotia seemed to be a nightmare win for the opposition. The Conservatives’ leader, back-room boy turned would-be-Premier Jamie Baillie said Ships Start Here had no effect and was a waste of money, and even though the Liberal Caucus still had a Ships Start Here sign on their own door, they had MLAs claiming the Ships Start Here campaign was only about NDP self-promotion.
In their desperation to fight Nova Scotians good mood, they also claimed that the NDP had done nothing at all to really help Nova Scotia win the ship building contract. They conveniently forget that the NDP invested in a stronger future for the yard in 2010: wharves, cranes, fabrication areas and office upgrades. Oops.